I had the pleasure of meeting with Linda Rainier in December 2019 while visiting the Boston area. As my first time interviewing an author I was nervous. I have set questions for all authors to be interviewed for 2020 and I decided to experiment with one in person interview.
We met in a bustling cafe in Burlington MA where I had the enjoyment of sharing the company of a quick witted, funny, and one of the most genuinely kind hearted people I have ever met. While we began the conversation as strangers, I quickly felt at ease and by the end I wished this author was my friend. I did this interview before having ever read the book (“Emma’s Fury: The Last Winter”), and she did a great job not spoiling anything. It is with gratitude for this experience that I share the following interview.
Author Interview Questions
1. What are a few of your favorite things? How did these influence Emma’s Fury?
“I have always enjoyed reading and the art of story-telling. There is something truly pleasurable when you can become completely immersed in a story and a new world. I’m also a huge fan of history and mythology. There are a lot of elements of world mythology in Emma’s Fury. There seems to be a commonality that connects people from all over the world through mythology and shared human experiences. Although many of the characters are from different time periods and cultures they share a common bond through their humanity.”
2. Do you have any inside jokes with friends and/or family members that you like to sneak into your content?
“Not necessarily inside jokes but I pulled aspects of their personalities for some of the characters. David is a mixture of two people in my life while Mei Li and Tatiana represent two sides of other person’s personality.”
3. What do you find is the hardest part of the writing process?
“I had no idea what to expect when I started the process. I think the largest hurdles have been the logistics of self publishing such as meeting requirements for uploading the book in each format, purchasing formats and copyright laws. Marketing has been a full-time commitment for the last year. I’m a fairly shy person so I’ve had to move outside of my comfort zone for my dream.”
We went on to discuss more intricate details of the writing process and how this plays out.
“I need to be able to see the whole story from start to finish”
“I get an inspirational seam – I string this together in a cohesive flow of events and create an outline.” This outline that Rainier mentions, is critical. Outlines provide the ability to review segments of the story and look at cause and effect as well as how each part reaches a resolution. It also helps her find plot holes.
But she also shared that this is process has to be flexible. Scenes change and this will result in changes throughout the rest of the book and, as an example, the second and third books in her series were originally one book.
Another part of the process is thinking about the experience of the book from the perspective of the reader. This includes the structure of chapters and the amount of detail that is left after editing.
Chapters are handled by finding and creating natural breaks and pacing to keep a reader interested, but not overwhelmed. When I asked Rainier for recommendations on length, she mentioned that 3,000 – 3,500 words is a good chapter length.
In regards to the details left in a story, it’s reasonable to leave a lot up to a reader’s imagination. Reader’s need the experience of creating their own version of characters and setting and the details left, such as a chair, need to be in the room because someone is going to use them.
4. How long did it take you to write Emma’s Fury from the first idea to publication date?
“I guess I had the basic idea rattling around for ten years or so, but I couldn’t figure out how to connect all the pieces. One day I was researching Greek mythology and came across the Erinyes and was intrigued. Once I had an answer to those questions it took about a year and a half, almost two years to actually write the book.”
5. What advice do you have to new authors?
“As cliché as it may sound– write the story that you want to read. If you love the book then chances are someone else will too. Also try not to be scared off by the prospect of negative reviews. At the end of the day some people will love your work, some will be neutral to it and others will hate it. Even bestsellers will have one star reviews but just remember that if one person enjoys your story then you have succeeded.”
I asked for Rainier to elaborate a bit more on her advice and we did break it down a bit more.
I sensed a bit of a disgruntled sigh as we talked about how she sees new authors wanting to be on Best Sellers lists. “A lot depends on an author’s ultimate goal, so new authors should ask themselves, ‘what do you consider success?’
Do you want people to read the book and enjoy it in the same way that you have read other peoples’ books and enjoyed them?
And in the end that is the goal – to create a book that someone would want to read because at the end of the day the reader’s money is as valuable as your money and you want to give them a product that you’re proud of.
But how does one do that? Rainier has some advice:
Be honest with yourself about the story you want to tell. This means being okay with a story that you want to write, that your parents may not want to read. Write your story regardless of what you think other people are going to say, and don’t rush the process because a reader can always tell.
Part of not rushing is incrementally growing your characters and bringing them along in the story. Remembering that the characters and the reader are on the same ride. That said, it’s important to slowly pull readers in and get them comfortable, then you traumatize them. We discussed examples of where this didn’t happen and it meant we discontinued reading the books entirely. The example I brought up was Terry Goodkind’s “Stone of Tears” (second book in the Sword of Truth series) in which he kills the character Sister Margaret in such a way that I ended up putting down the series and never finishing reading it. I’ve heard it’s good, but that particular interaction where a new character was killed off at the beginning of a book in a brutal way made me never finish reading the entire series.
But what about publishing?
Decide early on if you plan to self publish because it’s a lot of work. Learn about the process and start thinking about the image and marketing of the book as soon as possible, then start building the book’s image while you’re still writing it. It helps to do everything a little bit at a time. This includes learning about the process of picking ISBN numbers.
Linda Rainier went through Ingram Spark after querying over 45 agents. Most often she received no response instead of a rejection letter. She purchased her ISBN through Bowker, which allowed for her to have the ISBN direct through Library of Congress (US). Part of why Rainier chose Ingram Spark over Amazon was due to Amazon’s partial ownership of the ISBN.
6. Who do you think the biggest unexpected allies in writing a book are?
“Twitter has been surprisingly supportive. When I created my author account I didn’t have a lot of experience with the platform and honestly didn’t know if anything would come of it. But really the Twitter platform is a great group of authors helping and encouraging others.”
7. Who do you think the biggest unexpected enemies in writing a book are?
“There was a need to fight to maintain my vision for the story against pressure/suggestions from others around me. Also some social media platforms can be toxic under the guise of fostering grown within an author and they just don’t.”
8. What was your biggest inspiration?
“There are so many but if I had to narrow it down it would be Shakespearian tragedies and Japanese Anime. I love how they tap into some visceral human emotions. Both are exceptional mediums for story-telling.”
9. If you could send a letter back in time to yourself when you were first starting to write Emma’s Fury, what would it say?
“Don’t be afraid. This process will only make you stronger and believe in the story you have to tell. Also start researching ISBNs as soon as you can.”
10. Why do you write? (Optional)
“Writing is a way for me to have a shared experience with others. It is also a way to process my own emotions and to have my own voice.”
We ended up spending a lot of time discussing this particular question and there were some gems that almost sent tea out my nose and there were other moments so pure I wish I could encapsulate it as motivation.
“I don’t write to upset anyone or to be the next J.K. Rowling,” Rainier shared. “It is a way for me to connect with other people.”
“Reading has given me so much joy. It is a way for me to give that experience to other people and to have that connection with imagination.”
She also discussed the therapeutic benefits, such as when there are times in life that need an outlet. “It gives me a way to emotionally get out all of these emotions that I have.”
“Right when I was about to finish the book my mom died. Working on scenes later, I had to tap into these emotions of missing and longing to see my mom. It’s not saying that I had to experience everything that a character experiences, but it gives me a chance to experience and adjust to the trauma. It allows for processing. If it is at all therapeutic to me it is therapeutic to someone else. You allow yourself to process and heal by writing. It depends on the person. Some people just like to tell stories. When I was younger I used to just love telling story.”
If you haven’t already checked out my review of Emma’s Fury: The Last Winter, please take a moment to do so. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet this amazing author and cannot wait to read the next installment of her series.